by Mrs. David L. Cooper
“Cast thy bread upon the waters;
for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1)
For many months we had prayed that our Lord would enable us to reach people who sail the high seas. Praise His holy name, our prayers were answered when He laid on the heart of the late Rev. Oscar S. Zimmerman (director of the Immanuel Mission to Seamen) the burden of reaching with the books of the Messianic Series the passengers on ships.
From 1935 to 1947 Mr. Zimmerman wholeheartedly co-operated with us in placing the books of the Biblical Research Society where Jews and others aboard ships might have access to them. He would gladly have continued this distribution if the books had been available.
The Society's books in several different languages, he informed us, were placed “ ...regularly on the tables in the social halls and lounges of the great passenger liners and troop transports, where thousands of tourists, immigrants, soldiers, sailors, and marines have free access to them. They read the books in the lounges or take them to their cabins, unseen, unmolested, and peruse them for days.”
Mr. Zimmerman wrote:
Your books have circled the globe and have been found intact months later, though showing wear and tear — signs that they were read. Many a book has also been taken by its interested reader and has found its way into a home overseas ...
These vessels are visited each and every trip. We found that in placing the books on the library tables they were accessible to all the passengers. We have gladly replaced books carefully and prayerfully again where one or the other was gone. The manner in which a book or magazine disappears shows that they are removed gradually by interested persons. This we feel is satisfactory to you, as we believe people who are interested and like to read and keep a book should be permitted to do so. Some of the transports carry up to 1600 men and high ranking officers. A number of these are Jewish people.
We have access to every passenger vessel in port with the books. A fact which is encouraging is that these ships touch ports and lands around the globe, and passengers coming on board in the Orient (as an example) get in touch with the books there, whereas in this way the people not reachable here are reached all along the line.
This type of distribution is being carried on not only in San Francisco port, but also in such ports as Las Palmas, Canary Island; Para, Brazil; Alexandria, Egypt; Antwerp, Belgium; Hong Kong, and other ports.
Extra copies are placed in rooms of the seamen, firemen, doctors, quartermasters, pursers, and officers, where often from thirty to fifty men are found. Any man may take these books and read them. Since seamen, as well as passengers, have much idle time on their hands, and they especially are isolated much of the time, and since they receive no mail, no papers, and for weeks are limited to whatever literature is on the ship, they gladly read such truth-filled books as yours.”
Our especial interest was in placing the truth of God's Word into the hands of those migrants who were cast out of other lands and were refugees on ships, not allowed to land in any country. Six shiploads of such refugees were in the Mediterranean seeking entrance into some country when we visited the Holy Land.
In another report Mr. Zimmerman stated:
Emigrants from Europe going to Israel are often given books by our port workers. Also at Haifa at the port of entrance some of these people receive books. Immigrants going to Asia were given books by our workers at Hong Kong before they reach Shanghai, their main port of entrance. Refugees to Australia are given the books of your Society by our workers who board the ships at Colombo and Ceylon, India, or Fremantle, their first port of call in Australia before they arrive in Sidney.
Others from Europe and Asia receive your books which are placed on ships carrying refugees who come to San Francisco as port of call on their way to Mexico, Panama, and Chile. In this way books are placed among the people in order that they may have time to read them before arrival at their destination. The perils at sea these days are so very grave that men are open to truth as never before. Many ships go down, but the message read, if accepted, will stay them through death and into all eternity.”
Such far-reaching answers to prayer as these stir our souls to the depths. Pray for those who are reading the Society's literature which this fine corps of workers of the Immanuel Mission to Seamen has placed aboard ships. Pray also for this mission which has carried on its work of faith since 1912 and now has workers in more than 175 ports of the world. This undenominational mission believes and is obedient to God's Word “To the Jew first and also the Greek [Gentile].”
Mr. Zimmerman reported that the Biblical Research Society's books had been placed on over fifty passenger liners, such as the President Hoover. They were placed in social halls and on library tables on twelve of the large President passenger liners, twenty other American passenger liners, six U.S. Army transports, eight Japanese passenger liners, and four British passenger liners.
Some idea of the scope of this work may be seen from one of the shipments of books which we sent to the Immanuel Mission to Seamen:
- 1000 each of three booklets
- 5000 The God of Israel in English
- 1000 The God of Israel in German
- 1000 The God of Israel in Arabic
- 1000 The God of Israel in Spanish
- 100 The God of Israel in Judeo-Spanish
- 100 The God of Israel in Yiddish
- 150 Messiah: His Nature and Person, unabridged Paper-binding
- 75 Messiah: His Nature and Person, unabridged cloth-binding
- 100 Messiah: His Redemptive Career in Yiddish
- 75 Messiah: His Redemptive Career in English, cloth-binding
- 75 The Eternal God Revealing Himself to Suffering Israel and to Lost Humanity, cloth-binding
Although this mission has not received any of our literature for distribution since 1947, the Lord has shown us that He is using the books that have been placed aboard ships. In the spring of 1956, two Christian workers visited our home office. We are always happy to have people interested in the Society's ministry visit us and make a tour of our Headquarters. But we rejoiced particularly when one of these Christian workers stated that he had accepted Christ through reading Dr. Cooper's book, What Men Must Believe, or God's Gracious Provision for Man on one of the ocean liners, and that he planned the following September to go as a missionary to South America.
“Unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 13:47)
We are indeed grateful for the co-operation of workers in many foreign lands who are assisting us in the distribution of the books of the Messianic Series. We thank the Lord that they work so very cheerfully and efficiently. For years one of Mr. Zimmerman's port workers in Cape Town, South Africa, placed our books on the ships with such interest and blessing that he left a small legacy of $177 to continue this work there.
We now have a fine growing branch in Sydney, Australia, which continually sends long lists of names and addresses to our Home Office, and we send the books to Australia through our Head Distributing Branch in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Refugees in Calcutta and Poona, India, and in several other points in India, have received books of the Messianic Series through workers out there. Our branch is Poona printed 1000 each of the first four abridged books of the Messianic Series and distributed them to the Israel Jews — the Indian Jews.
In 1951 the French edition of The God of Israel — the message on the Trinity — was given to 10,000 of the intellectuals of Paris, Marseilles, and Nice, France. Recently we completed the printing of an abridged edition of the second book of the Messianic Series, Messiah: His Nature and Person, in French. We praise the Lord for enabling us to accomplish this work, for we had received many requests and pleas for more of the Messianic Series in French. This edition has been mailed out to the learned classes in France, and our hearts rejoice at the enthusiastic reports that we have received from some of those who have read the message and seen the truth.